A Time to Keep Silence
What did Solomon mean when he spoke of “a time to keep silence” in Ecclesiastes 3:7? One writer answers this question by pointing out that there is “a foolish silence, a sullen silence, a cowardly silence, and a despairing silence. None of these is to recommended. However, there is a prudent, holy, gracious silence to which Scripture enjoins us.”
If we do not learn to practice this kind of restraint, we will speak injurious words that stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1) and use harsh, uncontrolled language (Prov. 21:23). Unguarded lips always lead to serious consequences. Someone has listed six mischievous “Misses” that result: Miss Information, Miss Quotation, Miss Representation, Miss Interpretation, Miss Construction, and Miss Understanding. They are the result of talking when we should be quiet.
What power there is in the silence of self-control! John Wesley observed this in a disagreement between two women. One was speaking vehemently and gesturing wildly, while the other stood perfectly stilltranquil and unperturbed. Finally the first woman stamped her foot and shouted, “Speak! so I can have something more to say to you!” Wesley commented, “That was a lesson to me: Silence is often the best answer.”